The AMA has slammed a new Government policy to cap rental fees charged to pathology collection centres located in general practices and other medical facilities labeling it divisive and unbalanced.
The deal, struck between Pathology Australia and the Coalition in May, will help reduce regulatory cost pressures on pathology providers to help them provide affordable services and maintain current bulk billing rates.
But AMA president Michael Gannon today said the policy marks an attack on general practice and a windfall for pathology and big business.
“GPs see this policy as an attack on small business, which essentially delivers a windfall gain to two major listed companies at the expense of GPs working hard to keep their small businesses afloat,” he said in a media statement.
“General practices have made business decisions based on projected rental streams, including investment in infrastructure and staffing, and now face the prospect of the rules being changed at significant financial cost to them.”
According to the AMA prior to the Pathology Australia deal the Government had assured stakeholders that it would tackle inappropriate rental arrangements by implementing improved transparency and compliance measures to enforce activities under the existing regulatory framework – a strategy that the AMA supported.
But Dr Gannon said that while the AMA supports tighter regulation around rental practices the new policy goes too far.
“The changes are being reported as saving pathology companies around $150 million a year, with most of this money being taken out of general practice.”
Dr Gannon also argues that the changes were set without appropriate consultation with general practice groups and other providers of collection centres outside the major pathology companies and ignores views expressed in previous consultations.
Pathology Australia Chief Executive Liesel Wett however has denied claims that GPs were not consulted.
“The solution proposed is 100% consistent with the AMA’s policy on Medical Practitioners’ Relationships with Industry 2010 (revised 2012),” she told the limbic in a media statement.
“The Pathology sector has been working collaboratively for some time to ensure we get a solution on this issue.
The AMA is supporting a solution and policy changes, as is Pathology Australia. The difference is that PA is supporting the Government’s proposed solution which included consultation with general practice.”